The Legend of Spring-Heeled Jack

Despite the many advances in science and industry that took place in Victorian England, that time period was till full of superstition and paranormal belief. Many people still believed in fairies, phrenology and spiritualism- all things that have since been proven false. Quite a few people also believed in a devil-man called Spring-Heeled Jack.

The first known sighting of Spring-Heeled Jack was in Sheffield, England in the first decade of the 19th century. He was described as a ghost-like figure who could jump incredibly high and far. At this point, he was mostly harmless and limited his adventures to pranks and tame scares.

media.comicbook.com

When Jack re-emerged in London in the 1830s, his attacks were no longer funny. The demon-like figure was described as having a long nose, pointy ears, and glowing red eyes. He could also breathe fire and jump incredible distances. He focused his assaults on women, either by ambushing them while they were out walking or by attacking them when they opened their front doors. He tore their clothes and scratched them, and sometimes breathed flames into their faces. Then, he would leap away so fast that no one who saw him believed he was human. Supposedly, he was even seen jumping over rooftops.

Jack’s activities were reported all across England, but they became particularly prevalent in an area known as the Black Country in the 1850s. He was once seen jumping from rooftop to rooftop in the main square of one village. Most of his attacks here involved breathing fire into the faces of his victims, scaring them half to death before running away. Once an area was in a panic over sightings of Spring-Heeled Jack, he would disappear for a time before returning months or years later.

He became an iconic figure in Victorian culture, and was often featured in the popular “penny dreadful” novels of the time. Parents would invoke his name when reminding their children to behave and to return home on time. Preachers would use him to scare their parishioners out of staying out late and drinking at the local pub.

Sightings of Jack were intermittent throughout the 1800s, and he even made an appearance at the military base in Aldershot in 1877, where he terrified the guards over a series of weeks. His antics came to an end, though, in 1904, when he made his last known appearance in Liverpool. On this occasion, he leapt down a street, jumped onto a rooftop and ran off into the night, never to be seen again.

The legend of Spring-Heeled Jack is still popular in some circles. He often features in steampunk art and comic books in the present-day. But the mystery behind Jack has never been solved. No one knows how many people, or who, was involved in perpetrating his reign of terror over the people of Victorian England. And no one has yet discovered how he performed his feats of agility, such as jumping onto roofs from the street.

Next Article
ADVERTISEMENT
  • The South’s Most Haunted Plantation

    The plantations of the southern United States are full of terrible history because of their connection with the cruel institution of slavery. It should come as no surprise, then, that many of them are believed to be haunted because of the terrible things that happened on them. The Myrtles Plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana may...

    Read More
  • Extinct Penguin Species Never Really Existed

    In 1983, scientists discovered four penguin bones in an archaeological site on Hunter Island in Tasmania. The 750-year-old bones were determined to belong to a previously unidentified species of penguin, which they then dubbed the Hunter Island penguin. As no living Hunter Island penguins existed, the species was declared extinct as soon as it was...

    Read More
  • The Scottish Head Hunter

    Jack Renton followed in the footsteps of many of his fellow Scotsmen when he decided to make his living from the sea. And, like a fair number of his fellow sailors, he found himself shanghaied in 1868 at the age of 20, meaning he was kidnapped and forced to work aboard someone else’s ship. Naturally,...

    Read More
  • Was Alexander the Great Killed by Poison Water?

    For centuries, historians believed that Alexander the Great, the Macedonian king and fearless military leader, died after one of his many all-night drinking parties. His drinking buddies reported that he cried out from a sudden, stabbing gut pain and took to his bed, from which he never got up again. He died twelve days later,...

    Read More
  • How a Tea Party Saved an American Regiment

    It was 1776, and Mary Lindley Murray found herself in an awkward position. This wealthy Quaker woman and wife of a wealthy merchant favored the American revolutionary cause. Her husband, however, was a known loyalist and supporter of the British. The Revolutionary War was going on all around her, and she was eventually faced with...

    Read More
  • Ancient Infant Ape Skull Sheds Light on Human Origins

    The lemon-sized skull of a baby ape was recently uncovered by scientists in northern Kenya. Though this at first sounds like an unremarkable find, the skull, which was buried under layers of volcanic ash, is at least 13 million years old. On top of this, researchers believe that it belongs to the earliest common ancestor...

    Read More
  • Was the Delphic Oracle “High”?

    Anyone who has read about or studied Greek history and mythology has heard of the Oracle of Delphi. The Oracle was a powerful priestess who spoke prophecies, supposedly after being filled by the spirit of the god Apollo. She supposedly delivered these prophecies while in some kind of trance. Historians and scientists have often wondered...

    Read More
  • Miracle Mike the Headless Chicken

    In September of 1945, Lloyd Olsen and his wife, Clara, a farming couple in Fruita, Colorado, were expecting company for dinner. Clara’s mother was coming for a visit, and chicken was on the menu. Knowing that his mother-in-law enjoyed chicken necks, Lloyd tried to leave as much neck as possible on the rooster he was...

    Read More